About 10pm on December 29, 2009, Manpreet Kaur entered the bedroom she shared with her husband, Chamanjot Singh. She was planning to leave him the next day: the young couple fought often and she had told at least two people he had been violent towards her.
He believed she was having an affair.
A short time later, others who shared their house heard her wailing in Punjabi. "Save me, save me," she screamed, "I won't do it again … sorry, sorry … ahh".
Her housemates later found Kaur on the floor with her throat cut.
In his sentencing remarks on June 7, 2012, the judge described the attack as ''ferocious'' and ''brutal''. The walls were splattered with blood and an autopsy showed that Kaur had been strangled before her throat was repeatedly slit with a box cutter.
But according to the verdict, Singh was not a murderer.
Singh's defence managed to establish he had been ''provoked'' into losing control. He had been provoked by his wife threatening to leave him and have him deported, and by an angry phone call from her brother-in-law in India that same night.
Because of the provocation, the offence was manslaughter, not murder. Singh was jailed for a minimum of six years.
The sentencing reverberated through the media and all the way to the NSW Parliament. It sparked an uproar that a woman's words to a violent husband could somehow ''justify'' a fatal attack.
''The least that this Parliament can do for Manpreet Kaur and her family is to review the laws and to bring about changes that will give the community confidence that the law reflects community views,'' said Labor MLC Helen Westwood on June 14, calling for an inquiry.
''Law reform will ensure that husbands do not use the defence of provocation to justify the murder of women.''
But as that inquiry unfolded this week, it was argued that abolishing provocation risked consequences that many politicians and domestic violence activists, who had cheered the inquiry, would be uncomfortable with. Attempting to uphold the rights of women against violent men could, in this instance, also disadvantage battered women.
Provocation, like self-defence, is one of several partial defences to murder in NSW that results in the lesser charge of manslaughter. Provocation is established when an attacker loses control based on actions or words of the deceased person, and where those actions could have induced an ''ordinary person'' to lose self-control.
The most frequent type of ''provocative'' conduct established in NSW cases is a violent confrontation, and most cases involve a man killing another man.
But more controversially, provocative conduct has also included a non-violent homosexual advance, admissions of adultery or one partner leaving another.
The defence has been abolished or amended in most other states, most notably in Victoria, following several high-profile cases where a man killed a partner who was ending or had left the relationship.
But it has also been used several times in NSW by ''battered'' women who kill their abusive partners. One such 2006 case was described by the NSW Bar Association in their submission to the inquiry.
Cherie Russell was involved in a prolonged violent relationship with a man who had beaten, choked and kicked her. One night her partner approached her, swearing and wielding a knife. He said, ''I'll kill you stone dead'', before he put the knife down and challenged her to pick it up. ''Stab me, you bitch, you have not got the balls,'' he said.
She stabbed him, once, fatally.
The judge accepted the defence's argument that she had been provoked, and her murder charge was downgraded to manslaughter.
''There is a group of women who kill a partner in a situation of domestic violence who currently have available to them a defence of provocation,'' John Stratton, SC, told the inquiry this week. ''If that defence was removed, [they] would be convicted of murder.''
The NSW Bar Association, along with the NSW Law Society, believes the law should be retained. Not just because of cases involving battered women but because the principle that a killing involving a momentary loss of control was different to one committed in cold blood.
''It's saying there's a significantly different level of culpability with this offender than a person who's appropriately described as a murderer,'' Stephen Odgers, SC, said.
Testimonials such as these clearly weighed heavily on the parliamentary committee hearing the evidence, many of whom had expressed support for abolition of the defence before the inquiry began.
Some eminent witnesses still recommended abolition, including the Director of Public Prosecutions, Lloyd Babb, SC, who said provocation engendered a ''culture of blaming the victim''.
Both he and Deakin University criminologist Kate Fitz-Gibbon suggested self-defence should be amended and provocation abolished.
''The inappropriate categorisation of the offence of provocation manslaughter [in Cherie Russell's case] can be understood within historical trends of the law's failure to understand and acknowledge the harm of domestic violence,'' Fitz-Gibbon wrote in a recent paper.
One possible outcome from the inquiry will be a recommendation to the government to amend provocation, and limit what kinds of behaviour qualify as provocative.
The chairman of the Law Reform Commission, Justice James Wood, suggested explicitly stating in law that certain behaviours, such as sexual infidelity, jealousy or possessiveness, were not to be taken into account. ''I would like to see some brakes on it,'' he said.
Phil Cleary, whose sister was stabbed to death by her former boyfriend 25 years ago in a high-profile provocation case, agreed the defence did not necessarily need to be abolished.
''You have to tighten it though, so that men cannot use arguments about infidelity or words in the way they do,'' he said. ''[These women] killed because they express their independence, and we've got to stop that.''